Dear Elena Bo, started this topic in the Baking Basics section, because I didn't know where it could be added

If you don't mind, I suggest creating such a temka. If anyone has more information, join


Today it is cultivated in many countries from Spain to India. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world (a substance that costs less than a few dollars per gram is all sorts of fakes ranging from "possibly smuggled" to "not saffron at all"). And this is understandable, because only stigmas (pistil) are used as a spice - the central part of the flower. Hundreds of thousands of purple crocus flowers are required for one kilogram of dried saffron. Poor quality saffron also includes stamens that do not have their own scent.

Speaking of saffron substitutes, it should be noted that it has been counterfeited ever since the saffron trade began. To be sure of quality, saffron should be purchased whole and from a reputable manufacturer.

There are several other plants that impart a yellow color to food, but none has the hypnotic saffron scent. As substitutes for saffron are usually offered:

turmeric root, which is sometimes called "Indian saffron",
flowers of safflower (safflower), the so-called. "American or Mexican saffron",
flowers of tagetes (marigolds) or "Imeretian saffron"
real Iranian and Spanish saffron.

It is interesting
Saffron is a culture known since antiquity. There is evidence that it was used by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia more than 5000 years ago.

In the Palace of Knossos in Crete, there are paintings dating back to 1500 BC, which depict people collecting saffron.

With the fall of the Roman Empire, interest in spices was generally lost, but in the Middle Ages, with the development of trade and culture, interest in them increased again and saffron came to Europe through Spain along with Arabic culture - the name "saffron" in many European languages ​​comes from the Arabic za "fran is yellow.

What and how they eat
Real saffron has a very strong characteristic aroma that has no substitute, and a slightly bitter taste.

Saffron is a very strong spice and is used in minimal quantities. One gram of saffron will last for a long time. And if you want to cook real buibes, paella, or add a real flavor to baked goods with the color, you cannot do without saffron.

Unfortunately, the true quality of saffron can only be determined by laboratory methods. There are international quality standards that define the minimum acceptable quality of three analyzed indicators - color, odor and taste. The main one, determining the other two, is the coloring power of saffron, that is, the amount of dye it contains. The values ​​of indicators vary from 80 to 190 units of a special photometric scale. Of course, the average consumer sometimes cannot distinguish the quality of saffron in this range when added to dishes.

On the packaging of a self-respecting manufacturer and you, a category or units of an international scale are always indicated, for example: "Category I", "Meets ISO Standards", or local standards: "Mancha Selecto".

Even if you can afford to buy only 1g of top quality saffron, it is better to refuse to cook a dish that requires saffron altogether than to look for substitutes for it. The amount of saffron powder is always required less than whole stigmas.In practice, 4-6 servings may require 1/8 tsp. powder or 1 tsp. stigma of saffron.

The aroma of saffron does not "boil away" during prolonged cooking, but develops for at least 12 hours. Keep in mind when baking that the aroma of saffron intensifies the next day. It should also be borne in mind that wooden kitchen utensils are easily stained with saffron.

The aromatic and coloring components of saffron are soluble in water, milk and alcohol. The stigma can be soaked in water or broth for a while, filtered, and then added to the dish for a clean, uniform yellow-orange color. Depending on the quality of the saffron, it sometimes takes up to 24 hours to fully develop its flavor in solution. Another method of application - the spice is crushed and dissolved in milk half an hour before cooking. Milk takes on the deep color of egg yolk and is added to rice dishes or baked goods. Saffron powder can also be added directly to meals.

Saffron, like many other herbs and spices, requires a certain environment.

Such foods and aromas go well with saffron - almonds, pistachios, apples, bone marrow, dairy products, fish broth, most grains, potatoes, tomatoes, vinegar and white wine, garlic, cinnamon, citrus fruits, basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme.

In Europe today, saffron is used for some fish and seafood dishes - Risotto alla Milanese (Milanese risotto) in Italy, Bouillabaisse (Bouybes) in Provence or Paella Valenciana (Valencian paella) in Spain. Saffron is also found in some baking recipes.

The use of saffron is more typical for the countries of the Middle East, Central Asia and North India, gravitating towards the Arab culture. There it is widely used in pilaf and in cooking meat. Holiday pilafs in Iran and North India smell intensely of saffron, along with other spices like cinnamon, cloves, green cardamom, nutmeg or nutmeg. They are often decorated with nuts or almonds, raisins or pomegranate seeds.

Cardamom ranks second after black pepper in terms of global sales. Although there are different types of spices that resemble cardamom, the real cardamom plant is Elettaria cardamomum. Buy whole boxes and only from a reliable store if you want to get the best quality seasoning with this spice. Green cardamom is the most abundant and beneficial; white cardamom - the same boxes, but only discolored (they are used in Indian desserts), and black cardamom is noticeably different from them. Black cardamom is used to season aromatic spicy Indian dishes that require long cooking. The capsules are large, striped, brownish-black, with a sharp, pungent taste. Black cardamom is too hot a spice for light meals or sweetish seasonings; green boxes are best used in cooking.
Green cardamom


White cardamom Cardamom is a herbaceous perennial plant in the ginger family. It grows in areas where it is constantly warm, there is moderate rainfall, and is especially thriving in the forests of South India. Most of the cardamom sold is grown in India. At the end of the last century, unsuccessful attempts were made to cultivate this culture in Singapore and Penang. India accounts for 80% of the world's cardamom crop, half of which is exported and the other half is destined to meet Indian demand. Cardamom bushes begin to bear fruit after three years and continue to produce crops for 10-15 years. This plant has long, graceful oval leaves 2.5-3 m long. Stems with capsules are located near the base of the plant. The boxes ripen at different times. They have a triangular cross-section and an oval shape. Inside the thin capsule are three compartments, each containing a row of tiny brownish-black seeds.The pods are carefully cut with scissors before they ripen. As soon as the pods are ripe and burst, the taste and smell of the seeds weakens. Therefore, in order not to damage the plants and the boxes themselves, they must be collected manually. This is a very tedious activity, making cardamom one of the most expensive spices, along with saffron and vanilla. The boxes are carefully dried, not allowing them to burst, in the sun, in industrial ovens or dryers.

Smell and taste
Cardamom is called "heavenly berries" and "royal spice". The spicy and warm bouquet and distinctive aroma of cardamom seeds cannot be forgotten. Cardamom has a pleasant, slightly lemon-like flavor with a clear hint of eucalyptus and camphor that freshens the breath when chewed on the seeds. It is ideal for removing garlic or alcohol odors.

Cooking applications

Ground cardamom Cardamom plays an essential role in the preparation of both sweet and savory dishes all over the world. It is included in a wide range of Indian dishes: curries, pilaf, garam masala and other spices. In addition, it gives a special flavor to many Indian sweets and desserts, such as the popular kulfi ice cream and milk pudding. Cardamom is widely used in the cuisine of the Scandinavian countries, it is used in the preparation of canned food, herring, muffins and pies. Aquavita is also flavored with cardamom.
Arab traders were addicted to a cardamom-flavored coffee known as gahwa. It is served to this day with elaborate ceremonies as a symbol of Arab hospitality. Several open boxes of cardamom are placed in the curved spout of the coffee pot, which add aroma to the strong coffee as it is poured. The rules of etiquette require the guest to drink at least three cups.
Cooking tips
Knead the boxes in a mortar to open them, and then dry them over low heat - the smell and taste will intensify.

Medical and other applications
The seeds and pods contain an essential oil that is used in the perfume industry. Cardamom is often mentioned in the tales of The Thousand and One Nights, where its aphrodisiac properties are praised. In addition, cardamom is believed to be a stimulant that cools the body in hot climates and aids digestion.
Cumin (common)
Caraway seeds Cumin is one of the oldest culinary spices; its seeds were found in food remains from the Mesolithic era of five thousand years ago. Cumin added flavor to the bread that Roman soldiers ate, and its popularity increased as the empire grew. The ancient Egyptians always placed a vessel of caraway seeds in tombs to scare away evil spirits. Later, cumin was considered an important ingredient in love potions, preventing adultery. In 16th century Britain, cumin was used in bread, tarts, and pastries.

The homeland of caraway is the Mediterranean regions. Now grown in many countries in Asia and Europe.
A member of the same plant family to which parsley belongs, caraway has feathery leaves. It reaches a height of 60 cm, and large creamy flowers bloom on it every two years. Caraway is widespread in Europe, especially in Holland with its humid climate, where this biennial, hollow-stemmed plant thrives on heavy clay soil. Dutch cumin oil is considered excellent because it is grown near the sea. In addition, cumin grows in Russia and India.
Caraway seeds are dicotyledonous, that is, when ripe, they are divided into two halves. Each seed, or lobe, is slightly convex, light or dark brown, with five ribs. It is best to prune the plant early in the morning, before the seeds fall off the flowers. The cut stalks of the caraway seeds are left to dry and ripen for a week, and then the seeds are collected.

Smell and taste
Caraway seeds have a warm, sweetish and slightly peppery aroma. They taste a bit like fennel or anise.The caraway seeds taste with the lightest hint of eucalyptus oil and are chewed to freshen the breath.

Cooking applications
Caraway is widely used in the cuisine of Eastern Europe, Germany and Austria. It is included in both spicy and sweet dishes such as sauerkraut, cabbage soups, chopped cabbage, goulash, potato and cheese dishes. Cumin is used to flavor bread, especially rye, and cakes, including those prepared according to old English recipes, as well as cookies. The caraway cake was traditionally baked by the farmers' wives to mark the end of sowing - chunks of the cake were handed out to the farm workers. For a long time, cumin was put in cheeses: medieval recipes for Dutch caraway cheese are used to this day. In Alsace, Münster cheese has always been served with a saucer of caraway seeds, sprinkled on chunks of cheese before meals for a delicious combination of flavors.
Caraway is used as a spice for sausages and other meat dishes. Its leaves can be added to salads or used as a side dish. The root, which looks like a carrot, tastes the same as the seed: it can be cooked like a parsnip - baked or boiled.
In addition, caraway is the most important ingredient in kummel, aquavita, a favorite drink of Scandinavian people, it is a part of gin and schnapps. The seeds can be steeped in boiling water and served as a nutritious drink at the end of the meal.
Caraway cheese
Advice to the cook
Add some cumin when roasting meat in pots.

Medical and other applications

Ground cumin The 1st century Greek healer Dioscorides recommended cumin oil as a tonic for pale girls: it should be rubbed into the skin to improve complexion. In the future, infusion of caraway seeds treated children from flatulence. Cumin was used to flavor medicines for children. Cumin is a useful remedy for flatulence and indigestion.
Due to its aroma and taste, it finds numerous uses - for example, it is included in mouthwashes and is used in the perfume industry.


Cinnamon sticks Cinnamon trade was first mentioned by an Arab writer of the 13th century. Qazvini, Many merchants have made a fortune by selling this special aromatic spice: first the Portuguese in 1500, then the Dutch and, finally, the British East India Company. When traders took European travelers to the island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), they sprinkled cinnamon on the deck of the ship shortly before the island appeared in the distance and entertained passengers by saying, "Now you can smell it, and soon you will see it." And they were right, because the best cinnamon grows on the island at a low altitude, on white sandy soils. In the language of Victorian flowers, cinnamon meant, "My fate is in your hands." In Austria, lovers exchanged bouquets, which included cinnamon, symbolizing tenderness and love.

The homeland of the cinnamon tree is the tropical rainforests of the countries of Southeast Asia (Sri Lanka, Burma and the southern coast of India). Sri Lanka still produces top quality cinnamon. The most widespread type of cinnamon (the so-called "Ceylon") is grown on the Malabar coast of India, Sri Lanka, China, and Vietnam. Cinnamon also grows in South America and the West Indies. This culture is grown in the Seychelles and Reunion Island, where it was brought from Sri Lanka by the enterprising missionary Pierre Poivre.
Cinnamon is an evergreen plant of the laurel family and is grown as a short shrub to facilitate harvesting. The spice "cinnamon" refers to the inside of the bark of the cinnamon tree. Each cinnamon bush grows 8-10 side branches, after three years they are harvested during the rainy season, when moisture facilitates the removal of the bark. Thin branches are cleaned of leaves, then they beat on the bark with a copper rod to make it easier to tear it off. Long cuts are made on the branch, the bark is removed and dried.Every day, the bark is manually rolled into tubes until they are neat and dense, and the long tubes are filled with scraps.

Smell and taste
Cinnamon has a delicious exotic bouquet, sweet and aromatic, and tastes just as delicate and sweet. Its aroma invigorates, awakens the imagination and improves mood.

Cooking applications
Cinnamon is found in many dishes around the world. Cinnamon rolls or sticks are added whole to casseroles, rice dishes, drinks and jams, and also marinades. In Mexico, hot chocolate is stirred in mugs with cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon is placed in
muffins, pies and cookies.

Advice to the cook
Cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon are widely used in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes. Sprinkle syrup-cooked fruits such as peaches, nectarines, pears, and apples with cinnamon-flavored sugar and bake until the sugar is golden brown. Serve hot with cold sour cream. Toast the bread on one side, then butter on the unroasted side, sprinkle with cinnamon-flavored sugar and toast until the bread is browned. Add cinnamon to bun dough and serve with tomato or pumpkin soup. Stir in hot, fresh coffee with a cinnamon stick or sprinkle with ground cinnamon, thick cappuccino.

other application

Oil is squeezed from cinnamon leaves, long, dark,
shiny and aromatic. This oil is a good substitute for clove oil; crushed bark oil is used in the perfumery industry. In Mexico, chocolate is flavored with cinnamon


The name sesemt is found in the Ebers papyrus, compiled about 3,500 years ago. It is a 19.5 m long scroll listing ancient herbs and spices. The scroll was found by the famous German Egyptologist Ebers. It is unclear whether sesame seeds come from Africa or India, but soon this valuable culture reached China, where sesame oil was burned 5,000 years ago to obtain soot for ink, and the sesame seeds and oil themselves have long been used in cooking. Slaves from Africa brought sesame seeds to America and the West Indies, believing they would bring good luck.
Sesame seeds

Sesame is a tropical herbaceous annual plant that grows to a height of 2 m. It has pink or white flowers that look like foxglove flowers and hairy leaves, which are often used in folk medicine as a remedy for eye strain. When the seeds are ripe, the stems are cut and hung over the mats until the seeds are poured out of the pods. The seeds are small and flat, red, brown, black or yellow. They are creamy in the skin. In some places you can buy black sesame seeds, but mostly the seeds are sold in the skin, white. Sometimes on sale there is toasted dark beige sesame seeds. Sesame grows in many countries: India, China, Burma, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Sudan and Nigeria; most of the sesame harvest is consumed where it is produced, especially in Sudan and Nigeria, the major exporters of the spice.


Smell and taste
Despite the high oil content, sesame seeds have almost no smell, but when dried, the nutty aroma and flavor is enhanced.
Sesame oil owes its scent to several compounds that only form during frying. That is why roasted sesame seeds have such a magical unique aroma.

Cooking applications

Dried Sesame Seeds Sesame oil is often added to margarine and is used as a cooking oil and flavoring ingredient. The seeds are ground into an oily, beige paste known as tahini, which is seasoned with the Middle Eastern dish hummuz. Sometimes tahini is mixed with lemon juice and garlic and used as a sauce for hot tortillas, served as a snack or a holiday meal.The Chinese highly value sesame seeds, and sesame oil is widely used in Chinese cooking as an aromatic ingredient. The seeds are also used - for example, for toast with shrimp, which are sprinkled with sesame seeds before cooking. In addition, sesame seeds are sprinkled with slices of apples, fried in batter and covered with caramel. Sesame oil and seeds are used in cooking in other countries of the Far East, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Gomasio is a Japanese spice in which ground sesame seeds are mixed with salt.
Sesame seeds are often sprinkled on bread, sweet and savory crackers, especially in Greece and Turkey.

Ground turmeric It is believed that the English name for turmeric (turmeric) comes from the Latin terra merita - "dignity of the earth." Marco Polo was intrigued by the turmeric he discovered in southern China: "There is also a vegetable growing here that has all the properties of real saffron, such as smell and color, and yet it is not real saffron." Turmeric is revered by Hindus, associating it with fertility.
During an Indian wedding ceremony, a sacred thread smeared with turmeric paste is tied by the groom around the bride's neck. In Malaysia, turmeric paste is used to lubricate the belly of a woman in labor and the umbilical cord after childbirth - not only to scare off evil spirits, but also because of its healing properties, since turmeric is a well-known antiseptic.

Turmeric is a strong, bright yellow rhizome, resembling ginger in shape and size, and belongs to the same family of plants that grow in hot, humid tropical conditions. Turmeric is grown, consumed and exported in huge quantities in India, one of the largest producers of this crop. Turmeric is now also grown in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Australia, Africa, Peru and the West Indies. Turmeric is propagated by pieces of last year's rhizomes, which produce plants about 90 cm high with long crystal or lily-shaped leaves and pale yellow flowers. Turmeric is harvested after 9
months after planting, carefully removing the entire root system from the ground. The rhizomes are boiled, cleaned and dried in the sun for a week, after which they are sorted by quality. The highest quality ones are called "fingers". then there are “bullets” and “chips”. During drying
the rhizome loses three quarters of its original weight. Nearly all of the turmeric crop is crushed and sold in powder form.
Fresh Turmeric Root

Smell and taste
Turmeric has a peppery aroma and taste reminiscent of ginger, with a hint of wood and musk. Its aroma is subtle, peculiar.

Cooking applications

Dried turmeric root Turmeric gives dishes not only a pleasant rich color, but also a flavor. In recipes where saffron is listed as an ingredient, turmeric can be substituted with success. However, it would be wrong to believe that turmeric is considered only a second-rate substitute for the most expensive of the spices. In Indian cuisine, turmeric is often used as an everyday alternative to saffron, flavoring dishes in which saffron is needed only for color, but not flavor. You can use turmeric instead of saffron for reasons of economy: in India, saffron is reserved for festive feasts, for example, for wedding pilaf. Perhaps the most prized ingredient in curry
(especially fish curries) and curry powders, as it gives them not only the flavor but also the characteristic yellow color. It is also used in chutneys and marinades such as pickalilli, kejeri, and a variety of rice, vegetable and dhala dishes. Turmeric is popular with peoples
many North African countries where lamb and vegetables are seasoned with it. In addition, it can be added to the dough to give a pleasant ruddy color to baked goods, soups, rice dishes, potatoes and chicken.
Advice to the cook
Dissolve the spice in a little warm water, and then add to the dishes.

other application
The use of turmeric as a coloring agent is mentioned in an ancient Assyrian recipe, compiled 2,600 years ago; it is still used to dye cotton and silk fabrics. Turmeric is widely used in the food industry; it is used to tint mustard, butter, cheese and drinks.

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White Cumin Seeds The history of cumin is long and mysterious. There is evidence that it was known to the Egyptians 5000 years ago, it was found in the pyramids. The Bible mentions the threshing of cumin with twigs, as is done to this day in remote regions of the Eastern Mediterranean. Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and famous botanist, was of the opinion that cumin should be cursed and trampled during sowing in order for the harvest to be plentiful. In ancient times, cumin was considered a simiol of greed and anger. Curiously, by the onset of the Middle Ages, his reputation changed dramatically: cumin became a symbol of loyalty and honesty. For example, in Germany, where cumin is still a popular spice, the bride and groom wore a pinch of cumin seeds, symbolizing their loyalty to each other.

Cumin is a small annual herb of the umbellate family, growing up to 25 cm in height. It is native to the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and Upper Egypt, but is now also grown in Morocco, Iran, Turkey, India, China and the Americas. Cumin grows best in sunny climates, in countries where there is enough rainfall. Its small white or pinkish flowers grow in dense umbrella-shaped inflorescences, like in many plants of the same family.
The crop is harvested 4 months after sowing. The small, brownish-yellow, boat-shaped seeds have nine scars. Cumin seeds are often taken as cumin, but the former are lighter in color. Black cumin grows in Iran and Central Asia. Its seeds are smaller and have a sweeter smell. Black cumin is sometimes confused with nigella, which is called black cumin.

Smell and taste
Cumin has a strong spicy sweet aroma and slightly bitter aftertaste. This bitterness is especially noticeable in the ground spice; but
since cumin is often used with coriander, the bitterness is neutralized. Drying before grinding allows you to get
nutty, milder flavor. Buy seeds and grind them as needed for the best flavor. Seeds
black cumin seeds have a sweeter and more delicate aroma than white cumin seeds.
Black cumin seeds

Cooking applications
Thanks to its taste, ground cumin has gained popularity among peoples who prefer hot spices, for example, in
Indian, Middle Eastern, North African and Mexican cuisines. Cumin is an essential ingredient in most species
Indian curry and garam masala. And the peoples of Central Asia, where it is necessarily included in the seasoning for pilaf, call it
zira. Cumin is added to soups and stews, especially Moroccan lamb dishes and Mexican meat dishes such as chili
con carne. Cumin seeds add a lighter flavor to them, without obvious bitterness, and therefore they are mentioned in Indian recipes from
rice, vegetables and dhala. Black cumin is especially associated with Indian rice dishes. Cumin is widespread in German
cuisine, in classic recipes such as sauerkraut, marinades, cold meats and Münster cheese. It is also put in Dutch cheese,
which is made according to a medieval recipe.
Advice to the cook
To enhance the flavor of whole or ground cumin seeds, dry them for a few minutes in a heavy-bottomed skillet.

Medical and other applications
Cumin is considered an appetite-stimulating agent and is widely used to treat stomach ailments, flatulence, colic and
diarrhea. Moreover, it is used in veterinary medicine. Cumin oil is used in the perfume industry.

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Vanilla Vanilla This is one of the relatively "young" classic spices. The birthplace of vanilla is Mexico, Panama and the Antilles. For the Aztecs, vanilla served as a valuable spice long before the Spanish conquered their territory. The Spaniards brought vanilla to Europe. Natural vanilla is a pod fruit of a climbing liana of the orchid family. Species: In cooking, vanilla fruit is used - a pod-shaped box, 20-30 cm long and up to 1 cm wide with black small seeds. But in its natural form, vanilla is quite expensive, so its artificial substitute, vanillin, is often used. It is a bitter white powder that must be dissolved in a little hot water before use. Vanilla sugar is also often used - a fine sugar flavored with vanilla. Taste and aroma: delicate, rich, sweet aroma, but bitter taste. Culinary Uses: Used for making sweets, biscuits, fruit compotes, dairy dishes, ice cream, cake creams, sweets, chocolate. Vanilla sugar can be made at home by leaving a couple of cut vanilla pods in a tightly closed container with sugar.

Vanilla is an important ingredient in baked goods and a wide variety of pastries, sweet dishes, sauces, puddings and chocolate.
Vanilla is introduced into the product either immediately before heat treatment (into the dough), or (more often) immediately after it, into a still not cooled dish (in puddings, soufflés, compotes, jam, etc.), and into cold dishes (for example, curd pastes) after cooking. Biscuits, cakes are soaked in vanilla syrup after baking. The method of introducing vanilla into the product is as follows: a part of the vanilla stick is thoroughly ground in a porcelain mortar with powdered sugar, gradually adding sugar until all the vanilla is pounded, and then this vanilla sugar is mixed into cream, paste, or sprinkled on the finished product (dish ).
Vanilla consumption rates are relatively small: from 1/20 of a stick or more per serving or 1/4 of a stick per kilogram of food put into the dough. To prepare vanilla sugar, one stick of vanilla is enough for 0.5 kilograms of sugar. For sprinkling some confectionery products, you can prepare vanilla sugar of a lower concentration, for which it is enough just to store vanilla sticks together with powdered sugar in one jar: the sugar will be saturated with a rather strong vanilla smell.
Medicinal properties
Vanilla contains an aromatic substance aldehyde vanillin (1.5-3%), balsam, resins, sugar, fat, etc. It is used as a typical essential oil plant.

Historical facts
It was first introduced to Europe at the beginning of the 16th century. Originally used exclusively for cocoa flavoring in the production of chocolate. Contains, along with vanillin, a small amount of an unrecognized substance that weakens the strong aroma of pure vanillin and gives natural vanilla a special tenderness. Vanilla is used in confectionery production and in the preparation of cold drinks.
The Aztecs loved vanilla and consumed vanilla seeds in the Xoco-lall. Cortez tried this drink and returned to Spain, telling that it has magical properties. Europeans added vanilla seeds to tobacco and smoked or chewed it, and considered it a magic drug.
Vanilla has always been and remains a commercial product. Its value depends on quality. High quality vanilla pods should be soft, elastic, slightly curled, oily to the touch, dark brown in color with small, barely noticeable, white crystals on the surface. Any deviation from this standard will reduce the value of vanilla.

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Another prominent representative of the classic spice - nutmeg - comes from the spicy Maluku Islands in Indonesia.
Nutmeg and nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.) Nutmeg and Mace belongs to the Myristicaceae family.

The light yellow apricot-like nutmeg fruit contains two whole spices. Inside a mature, bursting fruit, there is a dark brown seed - nutmeg, and a shell - a bright red seedling - matsis. After drying, the nutmeg color becomes orange-yellow. The seed, separated from the shell, is dried first over charcoal, then immersed in milk of lime to protect it from insects, and dried in the air in the sun. The fruit pulp, woody and very sour, is used to make jam with a delicate nutmeg aroma.

Nowadays, nutmeg is cultivated in many regions of the tropical zone. The main producers today are Indonesia (East Indian nutmeg), Grenada (West Indian nutmeg), South India and Sri Lanka (Malabar nut). Muscat spices from Indonesia are considered the best in quality.

Two other nutmeg spices may be considered nutmeg or nutmeg counterfeits - Myristica argentea (Macassar (Papua) nutmeg) from New Guinea and Myristica malabarica (Bombay (Wild) nutmeg) from South India. Indian walnut quickly loses its aroma, while New Guinea has a pungent taste. Both fakes can be distinguished by the shape of the seeds. Real nutmeg is in the shape of an egg or ellipse, the largest size differs from the smallest by only 50%. The other two spices have more elongated seeds, more like acorns than eggs.

It is interesting
Nutmeg - Called the quintessence of spices: because of the strongest and most exotic aroma of all the spices brought from the Spice Islands.
Nutmeg was arguably the rarest delicacy in ancient Greece and Rome, due to the rather narrow geographical scope of those times. Only minor evidence of its use in food and drink has survived to this day. Nutmeg became more famous to the Byzantines, who obtained it through Arab merchants. The name comes from the Arabic "mesk" meaning "musky", "with the smell of musk." In Old French, "mug" meant "musk", hence the French name for nutmeg, "noix muguette", which was then transformed into English "nutmeg". It is possible that mace (matsis) has a similar origin.

The acquaintance of Western Europe with nutmeg spices was ensured by the crusaders, who learned about them in their campaigns to the Middle East and appreciated their use for culinary purposes. At first, nutmeg spices were used in small amounts to flavor beer. J. Chaucer in his "Canterbury Tales" mentioned nutmeg ale: in a fantastic imaginary garden "herbs grew large and small - blue licorice, and white ivy, and gray levka, and nutmeg for ale." It was then brought into fashion by Venetian merchants at the 12th-century gala feasts when it was brought in along with the carnation.

Muscat spices reached their peak in the 15th century, when the Maluku Islands became the main target of Portuguese expansion. Francisco Serribo became the first European to collect nutmegs and cloves in their homeland, the Banda Islands, several of the thousands of islands in the Moluccan Sea. In those days, it was believed that nutmeg allegedly endows its owner with a miraculous love spell - it was enough to hide the nut under the armpit - and thus attract fans.

Nutmegs were often used as amulets to protect against many dangers and misfortunes, from abscesses and rheumatism to fractures and other illnesses. French fashionistas and fashionistas wore nutmeg necklaces and graters made of silver, ivory, or wood, often with a nut compartment, to spice up the gourmet dishes of their choice. Street vendors sold wood imitations of nutmeg to simpletons.

The result of the transition of the Moluccas under Dutch control in the 17th century was the almost complete extermination of nutmegs on all but two islands of this archipelago. However, by the end of the 18th century, the French and British had already exported spicy tree seedlings to their West Indian colonies, in particular, to the island of Grenada. The cultivation of nutmeg in Grenada since 1796 has brought such success to this island that the inhabitants call it Nutmeg Island. Nutmeg is twice displayed in the national flag - in the form of an image of the fruit, and in the colors of the flag, symbolizing the colors of nutmeg - green, yellow and red. Caribbean cuisine has since included it in its arsenal as well. In Grenada, for example, locals use it in their spicy seasoning pastes to marinate seafood and grilled meats, and even make nutmeg ice cream!

What's useful in it
The miraculous medicinal properties attributed to nutmeg spices in the Middle Ages have not been confirmed today, and nutmeg is not used as a medicine. However, studies have confirmed that eating a lot of nutmeg spices is toxic. This effect is caused by myristicin - the main component of nutmeg essential oil.

In small quantities, nutmeg stimulates the appetite and improves digestion. As in the use of all spices in general, you need to know when to stop, an overdose of nutmeg can give a bitter taste to a dish, and in addition, cause convulsions and hallucinations.

What and how they eat
The use of nutmeg spices in cooking has changed over the past millennium. In ancient Rome, they were mainly added to wine. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, nutmeg spices, along with other exotic spices - cloves, cinnamon and pepper, were added in frightening quantities to almost all dishes. Here's an example from a medieval English cookbook.

“How to bake carp, bream, mullet, pike, trout, perch or any kind of fish.
Season them with cloves, nutmeg, pepper and put in the oven, adding cinnamon, butter sweet, and sour grape juice, raisins and prunes. A Book of Cookrye, London, 1591 "

By the 18th century, such extremes had disappeared from cooking, and the main attention was taken by newfangled coffee, chocolate and tobacco.

Both nutmeg spices have a strong aroma, resinous, bitter and warm taste. Muscat spices quickly lose their aroma when ground, i.e. It is better to grate the required amount from a whole nut just before use. One whole nutmeg is approximately 2.5 teaspoons grated.

It's amazing how popular these spices were in the 15-17 centuries, especially in comparison with the fact that they are so forgotten in our time. From that time we are left with only the classic French mixture - 4 spices, which comes from the traditions of the Baroque. This blend contains nutmeg in combination with black pepper, cloves and ginger. Also, cinnamon and allspice can be added as additional elements. By its nature, it is quite spicy and replaces pepper, but it has a richer and deeper aroma.

Today, perhaps only in Holland, a special love for nutmeg has been preserved - they are used with cabbage, potatoes and other vegetables, meat, soups, stews and sauces, but in the cuisines of other European countries, the use of nutmeg has remained only in certain dishes. Muscat owe their aroma to béchamel sauce, Italian mortadella sausages, Scottish haggis, Middle Eastern lamb tajins.

A pinch of nutmeg must be added to the classic Italian dish - stewed spinach with raisins and pine nuts.

Muscat spices go well with cheeses and are used for soufflés and cheese sauces, they are used to flavor fondue. Typically, nutmeg spices are also used with sweet dishes - puddings, sweet sauces, gingerbread and other pastries.Feel the exotic scent of long journeys by adding a dash of nutmeg to your favorite mashed potatoes.

Opinions differ regarding the use of both types of nutmeg. They are used in accordance with the traditions established in different countries. It seems appropriate to use the nutmeg color, as less spicy and aromatic, to use for more delicate dishes that do not take long to cook, and in general for drinks. And nutmeg where a longer heat treatment is required - in baked goods, stews, liver dishes, sausages, pates.

Pureed soups combine nutmeg with tomatoes, peas, chicken or legumes and vegetables such as cabbage, spinach, broccoli, green beans and eggplant. It is added to stews, game, poultry, with which it is especially in harmony, to sweet pastries - gingerbread mixes, gingerbread.

Macis can be used for fruit and wine-based sauces, gourmet seafood soups, especially turtle soup, desserts. It perfectly complements egg dishes and puddings.

In drinks - compotes, punch, mulled wine, where transparency is needed, it is also more convenient to use nutmeg color as a whole - it is easier to dose than a nut.

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Spices used in the preparation of dough and bread and more
Perennial herb of the ginger family.
Ginger is not found in the wild, it is cultivated exclusively as a garden plant, and sometimes just at home (boxes, pots). It grows to a height of 90 cm, its elegant leaves are spear-shaped, and its yellow flowers are a slight purple hue.
As a spice, the rhizome of ginger is used, which looks like roundish, but as if flatly squeezed, finger-separated pieces, reminiscent of various figures. Depending on the processing method, a distinction is made between white ginger (off-white and grayish) and black ginger. White is pre-washed ginger, peeled from the surface thicker layer, and then dried in the sun. Black - unrefined, not scalded with boiling water and dried in the sun. The latter has a stronger smell and tastes more pungent. At the break, both types of ginger are gray-white. In a ground form - as it is most often found - ginger is a mealy grayish-yellow powder.

Smell and taste. When fresh ginger root is cut open, you experience a refreshingly pungent lemon scent. Jamaican ginger is considered to have the most delicate aroma.

Ginger belongs to one of the most popular spices in Russia. For a long time it has been used in the national Russian cuisine - in sbitnyas, kvass, liqueurs, liqueurs, mash, meads, as well as in gingerbread, Easter cakes, buns.

Ginger is widely used in confectionery (lollipops, jams, cookies, muffins, biscuits), sweet dishes (compotes, puddings), in alcoholic (beer, liqueurs) and especially soft drinks internationally.

In Asian countries, ginger is widely used in preserves from meat and poultry, as a flavor-enhancing additive in tea. It is also found in curries. And many other spicy mixtures.

In Southeast Asia, ginger is used as an independent product: fresh ginger is candied and made into jam. Chow-chow (ginger with orange peel) jam is also popular in China, Indochina, Burma and England.

In India, 4 varieties of ginger flour are produced, with different percentages of ginger. Light ginger beer, ale and ginger wine are produced in England and the USA.

European, English, Dutch and American cuisines are characterized by the use of ginger in sauces for meat, in vegetable and fruit pickles, and in Asian cuisine, ginger is widely used in stewing meat and poultry. At the same time, ginger not only aromas the meat, but also makes it softer. You can use it raw in salads. Ginger gives a special flavor to fish and seafood, vegetables and noodles.

Ginger should be introduced into the dough either during kneading or at the end of it, when stewing meat - 20 minutes before cooking, in compotes, jelly, mousses, puddings and other sweet dishes - 2-5 minutes before cooking, and in sauces - after the end of the heat treatment.

Historical facts
It is believed that the botanical name for ginger comes from the word singabera, which means "horn-shaped" in Sanskrit. This spice has a long and honorable history. Homeland - South Asia, cultivated in China, India, Indonesia, Ceylon, Australia, West Africa, Jamaica, Barbados. In the writings of the philosopher Confucius, he was mentioned as early as 500 BC. e. Arab traders brought ginger from the East to Greece and Rome, and from there, together with the Roman conquerors, he reached England. The rhizome of ginger does not deteriorate during transportation, and therefore the Arabs took it to East Africa, and the Portuguese to West Africa in the 13th century. The Spaniards expanded their trade by shipping ginger to Mexico and the West Indies, especially Jamaica, where the finest quality ginger is now produced. By the XIV century. ginger became the most common spice after pepper. Ginger was the first Asian spice that moved to America in the early 16th century and quickly took root there.

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I usually use ready-made mixtures - Provencal herbs, Italian herbs - they are already collected in ideal proportions.
When baking bread, you can add mushroom herb (fenugreek)

Here is a video about her:

It's finished! Finally, I managed to buy a nigella-nugella from my place in Veliky Novgorod. According to an old Uzbek spice saleswoman, the nigella was brought in for the second time in 12 years of her work in the department. Initially, I was looking for Uzbek flatbreads, I wanted authenticity, but after searching the Internet, I found this:
"Nigella spice (nigella, kalindzhi, black cumin) - a favorite of oriental and Arab cuisines, is used in first and main courses, salads, pastries, desserts, drinks. Kalindzhi spice is used in salting, pickling, pickling and preserving vegetables, fruits, berries cucumbers, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelons, apples ...). "
A question for the southerners and just experienced chefs, and for what, besides sprinkling baked goods, do you still use nigella?
Quote: Creamy
for what, besides sprinkling baked goods, do you still use nigella?

We love nigella. Of course, mostly for sprinkling.
Nooooo ... Once I added nigella to my own carrot salad in Korean.
The effect was striking: the taste of the salad was almost the same as that of Som Tama. This is a Thai green papaya salad. Try it, maybe you will like it too.
And in general, it seems to me that it will be very good in vegetable salads.
Well, we will try for the purposes that you indicated in the quote.
Actually, in Moscow, it is constantly available in the "Indian Spices" stores without any problems, and most likely on the market.

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